Cruise lines are determined to sail a summer season in Australian waters this year, possibly using the German model of itineraries where ships leave and return to Australian ports.
Cruise Lines International Association global chair Adam Goldstein revealed discussions were already under way with the Australian government about how the country might be able to go-it-alone in terms of a cruise start.
Mr Goldstein maintained: “We have weeks and months to engage with the authorities.”
But he also added: “Nothing is guaranteed.”
Cruise lines, he said, are totally committed to doing everything in their power to make a 2020 cruise season happen and in Germany, a restart had already been approved by the government involving German cruise ships going to German ports only.
While the powerful American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has banned cruising in America, it has no jurisdiction in Australia. The Australian government has indicated it is unlikely to approve cruise before September 17.
This week, Carnival’s lines halted cruising until the end of October. Royal Caribbean’s voluntary pause currently ends on September 30.
Australasian chair of CLIA and Managing Director of Royal Caribbean Gavin Smith said the line would also be talking to the states and territories – particularly New South Wales and Queensland.
“I don’t think anyone has given up on the ambition. But it’s a complex challenge.
He said sailing from Brisbane to the Whitsunday islands, for instance, was an option.
“All the brands in Australia are developing their plans to return to service as soon as possible … the [cruise] ecosystem is alive and hungry we are all looking to get that happening this coming summer”.
Mr Smith said it will probably be a largely domestic experience with no anticipation of international visitors.
“This is about Australians going on domestic holidays to Australian destinations”.
He added: “[New Zealand] could be an opportunity to give some diversity to our ports of call in the coming summer”.
Fewer passengers and social distancing were likely to be seen, said Mr Goldstein, as well as ways to disembark passengers who were sick.
Managing Director of CLIA Australasia Joel Katz said “a number of the smaller expedition cruise lines have already put in proposals to restart in New Zealand and we know that the authorities are starting to evaluate those and we are working closely with them”.
Katz added: “This could create the foundation for a broader industry restart.”
CLIA has created four pillars to get cruise to restart:
The Screening Process.
This includes who is allowed to come on board a ship
The Onboard Operations.
Physical distancing considerations
Food service considerations
The wearing of face masks as necessary
Monitoring passenger temperatures.
Ways in which cruising will restarts visiting destinations and the health and safety precautions that must be taken here to ensure the passengers, crew and local people in those destinations are safe and healthy.
Creating protocols to be implemented when there is evidence of COVID on board